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'I've got family at last': Brothers born in mother and baby homes reunited after nearly 80 years

Their mother ended up in a Magdelene home where she remained until her death at the age of 82.
Aug 27th 2015, 7:05 PM 20,509 29

TWO BROTHERS WHO were born in separate mother and baby homes in Ireland have been reunited after almost eight decades of never knowing each other.

Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show today, 78 year old Frederick O’Donnell described his childhood as one full of hardship. He ended up homeless at the age of seven, begging on the streets of Dublin.

He was arrested and placed in the industrial school in Artane which was run by the Christian Brothers.

It’s a thing I don’t want to talk about. I’ve had a hard life there.

After he left he ended up staying for eight years with a family in Tipperary who were good to him before following the trend of the time and emigrating to England. Here he settled down and raised a family.

It was one of his daughters, Teresa, who started a search for her father’s family. Through the grapevine, Frederick had heard his mother had another baby and Teresa was determined to track them down.

An organisation called Finders International stepped in to help and revealed that 80 year old James O’Donnell was also living in England.

“It was very emotional, it was, we were waiting for him and I spotted him and I said to my other daughter Patricia ‘I bet that’s the man over there’ so we went over,” Frederick said.

I stood behind him for a while and I never said anything to him and I tipped him on the back and I said ‘hello brother’ and he looked and he said ‘ah hello, I’ve got a family at last’.

Records show Frederick and James’ mother ended up in a Magdelene Laundry and remained there until her death at the age of 82. Before her death James managed to track her down and has a photo of the two of them together. This was the first picture Frederick ever saw of his mother.

“Jimmy said he feels ashamed of what happened to the mother but I told him he shouldn’t. We knew nothing, we were only babies,” he said.

In her search Teresa also managed to track down first cousins of her father’s and though many years have passed, their little family can all start to get to know one another at last.

Read: Screaming rooms and Banished Babies: The sad history of where I was born>

Read: Should adopted children have the right to contact their natural mother? Not if it endangers vulnerable women>

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Michelle Hennessy


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